Lois Frankel defends Gwen Graham, hits Andrew Gillum on super PAC ads

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, has not made a formal endorsement in Florida’s five-Democrat primary for governor.

But Frankel has issued a statement through former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham‘s campaign defending Graham against attacks by a super PAC that supports Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the primary. Frankel weighed in after The Collective Super PAC  announced it will spend nearly $500,000 on TV ads that criticize Graham’s votes during her term in Congress from 2015 to 2017.

“In Washington, I’m fighting to end Citizens United and the use of secret money in campaigns,” said Frankel. “It’s extremely disappointing that any of the Democrats running for governor would undermine this fight by accepting secret contributions and encouraging their allies to attack a fellow Democrat with secret ads.”

The Collective Super PAC has already spent more than $1.2 million in support of Gillum, the only black candidate and only non-millionaire in the race. The super PAC’s largest donor is an affiliated 501(c)(4) group, The Collective Future, which isn’t required to reveal its individual contriibutors.

Polls last week by Florida Atlantic University and Mason-Dixon showed Graham leading the Democratic field and Gillum in fourth or fifth place.

The Collective said last week that its new ad “focuses on one of Gillum’s primary opponents, who continues to tout progressive credentials despite voting with banks, supporting the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, and publicly undermining President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to get reelected.”

Graham voted to loosen some financial restrictions in the Dodd-Frank bill and supported the Keystone XL pipeline. She generally backed President Barack Obama and Democratic leadership on the Affordable Care Act, but voted in 2015 for a bill to reduce the scope of Obamacare’s employer mandate by making it apply to 40-hour-a-week employees rather than 30-hour-a-week employees.

Frankel differed with Graham on the three votes highlighted by The Collective, but defended Graham.

“I served with Gwen Graham in Congress. She voted with Democrats to save the Affordable Care Act from Republican attacks. Gwen defended President Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from Wall Street’s attacks. And she rallied the Florida delegation to protect our environment from polluters’ attacks. Anyone attacking her today is not doing so in the best interest of Democrats or our state,” Frankel said.

 

 

What your member of Congress says about immigrant family separations

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, at a news conference today denouncing the government’s separation of minors from adults accused of trying to enter the U.S. illegally. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The decision by President Donald Trump‘s administration to separate minors from adults accused of trying to enter the U.S. illegally has generated controversy.

Here’s a look at what Florida’s two U.S. senators and the four members of Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation are saying about it — as well as a statement from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who’s running for Senate this year.

Nelson

Sen. Bill Nelson (D): (From a June 7 letter Nelson and 39 other Senate Democrats sent to Trump) “Your decision to separate children from their parents at the border is cruel, unnecessary, ineffective, and goes against our values as Americans. There is no legitimate reason why these children need to be separated from their parents. … We ask that your Administration rescind this unethical, ineffective, and inhumane policy and instead prioritize approaches that align with our humanitarian American values.”

Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio (R): “The current situation at the border is the result of a choice between the only two options current law and federal court mandates allow: The Obama administration approach of releasing adults who illegally entered with children, which turned our border into a magnet for illegal immigration and traffickers looking to exploit vulnerable migrants; and the current approach of detaining parents, which divides families – something everyone says they want to avoid. Neither is an acceptable approach. Therefore, Congress must act to legally allow families to be held together pending their hearing, and to provide funding for the creation of family facilities and for expediting the process of adjudicating illegal entry and asylum. While this third option is not perfect, it is far better than incentivizing future illegal immigration or separating children from their parents.”

Mast

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City:  “It is our duty as an American government to deal compassionately with any child from any nation just as it is the responsibility of foreign families seeking asylum in the U.S. to choose only legal means to enter our nation so they can avoid family disruption. I am confident this process will be improved.”

Hastings

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach: “Let’s be clear: the child-separation policy comes directly from President Donald John Trump’s Administration. No matter how he tries to cast blame on others, he started this immoral policy, and he can end it himself. I’ll never understand why Donald Trump looks at a tired, hungry, and frightened child and sees an enemy of the state. But in doubling down on this indefensible policy, the President continues to inflict immeasurable trauma on thousands of children and families. He has really outdone himself this time and unfortunately our entire country will suffer the consequences of this shameful episode for years to come.”

Frankel

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach: (From a news conference this morning) “We are outraged…There is a horrific crisis on our border, thousands of migrants seeking asylum from violence, looking to save their children — looking to save their children — coming to America. We’ve seen a lot of ruthless, dangerous actions by the Trump Administration, but this is as bad as it gets. I call it government-inflicted child abuse. The government is cruelly ripping children from the arms of their mothers and fathers who are fleeing violence and horrible conditions.”

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, in 2016.

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton:  “Hundreds of people have called my office to demand that the inhumane policy of forced separation of parents and children at our border come to an end. I share that outrage, and I agree–this policy must end…And I won’t stop speaking out until this Administration stops ripping kids away from their parents…A nation that is committed to moral integrity doesn’t place children—alone—in detainment centers that are described as jails. A nation that is committed to family values doesn’t go out of its way to rip children from the arms of their parents.”

Scott

Gov. Rick Scott (R), candidate for U.S. Senate: “What the country is witnessing right now is the byproduct of the many years of bi-partisan inaction and failure from our federal government. They have failed to secure our borders, which has resulted in this chaos. Let me be clear – I do not favor separating families. Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border. Anyone seeking to enter our country illegally needs to be sent back, with the exception of those who are truly seeking asylum from an oppressive regime.”

 

Frankel, heading for Mexico border, calls Trump immigration policies ‘racist’

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, at City Hall today. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

WEST PALM BEACH — U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, will travel to Texas this week to visit detention centers near the U.S.-Mexico border where nearly 2,000 children have reportedly been separated from their families as part of a crackdown on illegal entries into the U.S.

Frankel called the family separations part of a “racist” immigration policy by President Donald Trump.

“He wants to completely revamp the immigration program in this country, so basically he wants to keep immigrants out of this country. It’s not just racist, it’s economically ridiculous because our country’s been built by immigrants and we need fresh immigrants coming in for our workforce,” Frankel said after appearing at a news conference with other Democrats at City Hall to promote Medicaid expansion.

“I’m going to be going on Friday with a very large contingency of members of Congress. I know how I feel and I think a lot of Americans feel. We’re not going to be quiet about this until he changes policy,” said Frankel.

Trump has said Democrats can end the family separations by working with Republicans on immigration legislation.

“The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda. Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!” Trump tweeted on Friday.

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change! This is why we need more Republicans elected in November. Democrats are good at only three things, High Taxes, High Crime and Obstruction. Sad!” Trump tweeted Saturday.

Frankel rejected the idea of the separation policy as a bargaining chip to get Democrats to support Trump immigration priorities.

“He in his own mind may have these little children who are being cruelly and inhumanely separated from their parents, he may think it’s a bargaining chip,” Frankel said.

“He wants to completely change the immigration program that’s going to severely limit families coming in together, for example, the number of immigrants coming into the country. It’s a complete dismantling of the system that needs to be improved, obviously, but not completely dismantled. So I don’t see any kind of exchange of the children for a wall. The president wants a lot more than that.”

The separations have increased since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy under which Department of Homeland Security officials are referring all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

Based on a review of Department of Homeland Security records, the Associated Press reported Saturday that 1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults between April 19 through May 31. The figures did not include more specific breakdowns by age or whether the separations were for illegal entries, immigration violations or possible criminal conduct by the adult.

Frankel said Trump can stop the family separations “in like two seconds” with a phone call to Sessions or Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen.

“Some of us, it’s mostly Democrats but there are probably some Republicans, are trying to put enough public exposure of this cruelty to get the president to back off,” Frankel said.

Texas school shooting: Alcee Hastings blasts Republicans, other pols weigh in

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, quickly pointed to Republican opposition to gun control after this morning’s shooting at a high school near Houston, Texas.

Preliminary reports say at least eight people were killed in the shooting.

“Watching yet another school shooting unfold, knowing that Republicans in Congress have blocked every single effort to reform gun control, is heartbreaking and infuriating. We are averaging 1 school shooting per week with casualties. @SpeakerRyan when will enough be enough?” Hastings tweeted at 11:31 a.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in an afternoon news conference, said the guns used in the mass shooting — a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver — were owned legally by the suspect’s father. Abbott said it wasn’t clear whether the father knew his son had the guns.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, also a gun control advocate, is waiting to form judgments.

“Heartbreaking news. I’m monitoring the situation, and my thoughts are with the victims, their families, and the students of Santa Fe High School,” Frankel told her Twitter followers at 11:30 .am.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, whose district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, tweeted: “It’s been three months since the shooting at Stoneman Douglas. If you are watching this, it should move you to tears. More important, if you’re an elected official, it should move you to action to keep kids safe. And if it doesn’t, then just get the hell out of our way.”

Later, Deutch added: “Another piece of our heart was torn out of us this morning. To the grieving families and survivors, please know that all of us South Florida are here for you. Just like the families and communities of Columbine and Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook and Dunblane have been with us.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said on Twitter that he is “Praying for all those in Texas today. At some point, we as a society have to say enough is enough. We have to come together and do more to protect our kids in school.”

Said Florida Gov. Rick Scott: “My wife, Ann, and I are devastated to learn of the tragic school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas today. I just spoke to Texas Governor Greg Abbott and offered any assistance or support they may need in response to this horrific act of violence against innocent students, teachers and law enforcement. As we continue to mourn the loss we experienced in Florida on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we unfortunately know the enormity of the grief they are experiencing and our hearts are broken over this senseless tragedy.”

 

 

Trump in Palm Beach: Potential relief for Lantana airport for lost business

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, with Stellar Aviation President Jonathan Miller and County Commissioner Dave Kerner at Lantana airport in 2017. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County’s Lantana airport — forced to effectively shut down whenever President Donald Trump visits Mar-a-Lago — is inching a little closer to getting some relief from the federal government.

spending bill approved by a House Appropriations subcommittee this week includes $3.5 million to reimburse airports and related businesses that are affected by the temporary flight restrictions imposed when Trump visits Palm Beach or his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Key language for Lantana airport in a House appropriations bill.

The money, for the budget year that begins Oct. 1, has not been approved by the full committee or the full House or the U.S. Senate. But it was hailed as a significant step by U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, whose district includes the Lantana airport and Mar-a-Lago.

“Great news!” Frankel tweeted this morning. She has worked on the issue with U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., whose district includes Trump’s Bedminster club.

The president of the company that runs operations at Lantana airport estimated in January that he’d lost about $500,000 during Trump’s visits.

The Secret Service prohibits flights in and out of the Lantana airport — officially known as Palm Beach County Park Airport — whenever the president is in town because the airport is less than 7 miles from Mar-a-Lago. Trump has made 17 visits to Palm Beach since taking office.

 

U.S. fulfills Trump Jerusalem embassy pledge; Florida Republicans jubilant, Dems restrained

Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted this picture of himself with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called the opening of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem “a great day for Florida, Israel and the United States.”

The U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and formally opened its embassy there today — fulfilling a campaign pledge of President Donald Trump and a stated goal of many politicians in both parties.

“Big day for Israel. Congratulations!” Trump tweeted this morning.

“Today is truly a historic day for America’s unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel,” said Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “…The unequivocal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital comes after presidents in both parties stalled our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. So I truly appreciate the Trump Administration for implementing U.S. law and finally moving our embassy.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who’s in Jerusalem for the occasion, tweeted a picture of himself with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and declared himself “Proud to join @netanyahu to celebrate the U.S. Embassy being moved to Jerusalem, where it belongs. Today is a great day for Florida, Israel and the United States. FL will continue to stand with Israel.”

Republican Scott is running for U.S. Senate against three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who also tweeted his support for the embassy move — while adding that problems remain in the Middle East.

“Big day for Israel,” President Donald Trump said of the embassy opening. Here’s Charlton Heston depicting another big day for Israel from the 1956 epic “The Ten Commandments.”

“Today we celebrate the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to its appropriate place in Jerusalem. But the hard work of helping bring about a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians must go on,” Nelson said.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, also tempered her expression of support for the move.

“Opening the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, symbolizes the enduring friendship between our nations,” said Frankel in a statement released by her office. “While I join Americans and Israelis in celebrating, I remain disappointed by the absence of a serious commitment to the two-state solution. Divorced from a broader peace process, relocation risks more violence between Israelis and Palestinians. I urge the Administration to put forward a plan with the goal of two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, a U.S. Army combat veteran who once volunteered with the Israeli Defense Forces, said the U.S. is “finally recognizing the truth by moving our embassy to the center of freedom in the Middle East and the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. I chose to volunteer alongside the IDF in Israel after serving in the Army because the United States and Israel share the common values of freedom and democracy. The Hamas-led terrorism erupting around the Middle East reaffirms that those who oppose Israel’s sovereignty are fueled by a murderous and hate-driven ideology in stark opposition to these values. Today’s move sends the clear message that the United States will support our allies and won’t tolerate affronts to human dignity.”

No congressional Democrats attended the ceremony in Jerusalem. But U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said he would have gone.

“While I wasn’t there today, I would have loved to have participated in this historic and moving embassy dedication. Despite reaching out to the Administration, I was not invited to be a part of the official American delegation, but I look forward to visiting our embassy in Jerusalem next month,” Deutch said.

 

These Democrats opposed the Iran nuclear deal, but now they’re for it

Democratic U.S. Reps. (from left) Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach and Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach opposed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 but criticized President Donald Trump for pulling out of it Tuesday.

Three Democrats in Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation broke with former President Barack Obama and their party leadership in 2015 to oppose the Iran nuclear deal.

So with President Donald Trump announcing Wednesday that the U.S. is pulling out of the agreement, were Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Alcee Hastings happy?

Not at all.

All three issued statements denouncing Trump’s decision.

Click here to read their explanations as well as reactions from Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott.

 

Trump Iran deal announcement looms; how Nelson, Rubio, Palm Beach County reps voted in 2015

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (left) and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson disagreed on the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump announced Monday on Twitter that he’ll reveal his decision on whether the U.S. should remain in the Iran nuclear deal this afternoon at 2 p.m.

The Iran deal was a landmark of former President Barack Obama‘s administration, but three Democrats in Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation — Reps. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach —  opposed it in 2015. Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans on several issues, supported the Iran deal.

The House voted against the deal by a 269-to-162 margin in September 2015. No Republicans supported the agreement and 25 Democrats joined them in opposing the president.

A majority of the U.S. Senate, including Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, opposed the deal as well. But under Senate procedural rules, Republicans needed 60 votes for a resolution opposing the deal to go forward. They fell short as Florida Democratic  Sen. Bill Nelson and 41 other Democrats voted to block consideration of the resolution.

In a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches appearance two weeks before the Senate vote, Nelson called the Iran deal flawed but better than the alternative.
“Right now, if we walk away from the agreement, Iran can develop a nuclear weapon in two to three months,” Nelson said. “If we agree to this agreement, which has its flaws, at the very least they will not produce a nuclear weapon until after 10 years and probably after 15 years.”
Nelson also said that he was satisfied that if Iran tried to secretly develop a nuclear weapon “we would find it.”

 

Who will get a free ride to re-election at noon today?

U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

As Florida’s candidate qualifying period for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and judicial offices nears today’s noon deadline, several sitting judges — and perhaps a member of Congress or two — are hoping to win re-election without opposition.

As of Thursday night, no candidate had submitted paperwork and paid the $10,440 filing fee to challenge U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach. Republican Derek Schwartz opened a campaign for Frankel’s District 21 seat in February, but hadn’t met the criteria to get on the ballot as of Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, has so far drawn only a write-in opponent.

In Tampa, two Democrats and a Republican opened campaigns for the seat of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, but as of this morning she’s the only candidate to have  qualified for the ballot.

Incumbent judges rarely face challenges in Palm Beach County and, as of late Thursday, the six circuit judges up for re-election were unopposed.

At least two of Palm Beach County’s congressional districts will be busy.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, has drawn two Republican primary challengers, Mark Freeman and Dave Cummings. Two Democrats — Lauren Baer and Pam Keith — have also filed for Mast’s Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 seat.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, drew a Democratic primary challenge Thursday when Jay Fandl qualified for the ballot in Palm Beach-Broward District 22. Hillary Clinton won District 22 by 16 points in 2016, but that hasn’t deterred four Republicans — Nicolas Kimaz, Javier Manjarres, Paul Spain and Eddison Walters — from qualifying to run there.

While Florida’s qualifying period for federal candidates ends at noon today, candidates for state and local offices have a June 18-22 qualifying period.

 

Rep. Lois Frankel endorses Lauren Baer in Dem congressional primary

Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel (left) is endorsing Lauren Baer in a Democratic congressional primary.

Lauren Baer has picked up the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, in her bid for the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, in a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional district.

Baer, a former Obama administration foreign policy adviser, is running against U.S. Navy veteran and attorney Pam Keith in the District 18 Democratic primary.

“Lauren was raised in FL-18 and understands firsthand the challenges facing the district and our country,” said Frankel. “Her passion, experience, and deep roots in our community set her apart and will make her a great Representative for the district. From day one, Lauren will work hard every day to find meaningful solutions. I am proud to stand with Lauren and look forward to serving together in Congress”